Facts of the Case
KEY FACTS OF THE COMPLAINT FILING:
- To preserve ownership of his name and protect Chinese consumers from being misled, Michael Jordan filed suit in a Chinese court on February 21, 2012 against Qiaodan Sports Company Limited, a Chinese sportswear and footwear manufacturer, for unauthorized use of his name and identity.
- Qiaodan Sports’ misuse of Michael Jordan’s name and identity has misled and continues to mislead consumers. Qiaodan Sports has knowingly profited from this infringement of Michael Jordan’s naming rights.
MERITS OF THE COMPLAINT:
- Michael Jordan is well known in China as “Qiaodan” (乔丹): Since the 1980s, thousands of media reports in well-known publications such as the People’s Daily, Economic Daily and China Sports Daily have continuously and extensively reported on Michael Jordan’s career, influence and achievements – consistently referring to him as Qiaodan (乔丹).
- Michael Jordan owns his own name and identity: According to the People’s Republic of China, an individual shall enjoy the right of personal name (Article 99 of the General Principle of Civil Law) and infringement on an individual person’s naming rights is prohibited (Article 2 of Torts Liability Law).
- Qiaodan Sports has infringed upon Michael Jordan by illegally using his name on its products: Michael Jordan has never authorized Qiaodan Sports to use his name, yet the company has registered several trademarks that include his name and reference his registered brand and his career. For example:
- Qiaodan Sports has registered:
- “Qiaodan” and乔丹 – the Chinese translations of Jordan
- Domain name and website http://qiaodan.com.cn
- Qiaodan Sports has actively filed for over 100 more similar trademarks:
- Filed to register trademarks containing the number 23
- Filed numerous applications for trademarks consisting of Michael Jordan’s sons’ names, Jeffrey and Marcus, in Chinese characters and the associated pinyin Romanization
- Qiaodan Sports has registered:
- Qiaodan Sports’ use of Michael Jordan’s name and its aggressive marketing tactics have misled Chinese consumers: Qiaodan Sports uses these names without permission in large scale advertising campaigns, including entering a sponsorship agreement with China Central TV (CCTV) at the World University Games and sponsoring Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur from 2008-2010. In 2009-2010, Qiaodan Sports broadcast its name and logo courtside during U.S. NBA games broadcasted in China.
- Qiaodan Sports has profited from consumer confusion created by its misuse of Michael Jordan’s image and reputation: With over 30 franchises and 4,000-5,000 specialty stores, Qiaodan Sports revenue totals have grown from $45.6MM in 2007 to $456.3MM in 2010.
MICHAEL JORDAN IS TAKING THIS STEP TO PRESERVE HIS NAME FROM UNAUTHORIZED USE AND TO PROTECT CHINESE CONSUMERS FROM BEING MISLED:
- Preserve his name and brand: Michael Jordan is taking this action to preserve ownership of his name and his brand, which he has spent many years building. He has worked incredibly hard to build his identity and his brand, and he takes tremendous pride in the shoes and apparel that display his name and represent his identity. No one should lose control of their own name.
- Protect Chinese consumers from being misled: Chinese consumers deserve to know what they are buying. Confusion over the Qiaodan Sports brand misleads Chinese consumers.
- Following the path of other athletes: In recent years, Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian have both won court protection from companies that have illegally used their names.
- Chinese consumers deserve honest competition: Companies succeed by respecting their consumers and being honest about their products. Michael Jordan thrived on honest competition as a basketball player. As a businessman, he continues to welcome honest competition. When competitors don’t play by the rules, and attempt to use his name without authorization, he will act to protect his name and consumers.
- The lawsuit is about identity, not money: Michael Jordan is pursuing this action to maintain control of his name and identity, and to protect Chinese consumers from being misled. Any monetary awards from this case will be invested in growing the sport of basketball in China. Unauthorized use of Michael’s name and the names of his children is a deeply personal matter.
- Consistent with China’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection: China continues to make important improvements to its IPR regulatory environment to ensure that companies and individuals have a platform to address IPR violations. This complaint is in line with China’s approach to IPR issues.
MICHAEL JORDAN IN CHINA:
Throughout his career, Michael Jordan has been a visible sports figure in China.
|Timeline||Milestone||Michael Jordan in China|
|1984||First Chinese media reports about Michael Jordan||Michael Jordan was first seen on Chinese television playing for the U.S. basketball team in the 1984 Olympics.|
|1987||CCTV started to broadcast NBA games||Michael Jordan became the most famous basketball player among Chinese audiences and a superstar to millions of Chinese fans. Media continued to intensively report on Michael Jordan’s achievements and influence for over 30 years.|
|2004||Michael Jordan visited China||The visit generated a new round of media focus and public influence in China.|
|2011||Michael Jordan was named “2011 Baidu News Maker”||Baidu is the top online news search platform in China.|